02/19/2013, 00.00
EGYPT
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Egypt, Benedict XVI an example for Catholics and Orthodox

by André Azzam
The pastors of the seven Egyptian Catholic rites consider the Pope’s resignation a great act of faith and responsibility. The path indicated by the Synod of the Middle East, the only way to address the challenges generated by the Arab Spring. For the Greek-orthodox the Pope's decision will give new impetus to the Church.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - Pope Benedictus XVI's resignation has been welcomed with very positive and constructive reactions among the Catholic Church in Egypt with its seven different rites. The Coptic Orthodox Church, meanwhile, has remained quite discreet after the Pope announced his resignation. Many people consider this decision uncommon and without precedent in the Eastern Church traditions. But all expressed respect and consideration, along with a discreet abstention from comment.

First of all, His Beatitude Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Patriarch-Emeritus of the Coptic Catholic Church stressed upon the fact that ''the Pope took in front of God the Almighty the proper decision at the proper moment''. Cardinal Antonios Naguib himself, though more than ten years younger than Pope Benedictus, resigned a couple of weeks ago for health reasons.

The Latin Bishop for Egypt, Msgr. Adel Zaki, former head of the Franciscan Order in Egypt, reacted saying: ''We reacted first with amazement and surprise and many questions aroused, but we soon realized that this man has always been distinguished by his courageous and modest decisions as much as his clear vision and deep sense of responsibility along with the feeling that his tasks necessitate solid spiritual and physical energy because of the rhythm of life nowadays and the Church's impact in the world. At the moment when everybody is struggling for power, this going against the trend, is giving us a model we ought to follow. This is specifically significant at the present moment in our country Egypt, where so many parties are fighting to seize power. Christ is only eternal and has no throne or personal glory...''

Bishop Kyrillos William of the Coptic Catholic diocese of Assiut in Upper Egypt stated: ''The Pope revealed a huge amount of modesty and courage and took a daring and unprecedented decision at a good moment''.

As for Bishop Youhanna Golta, Patriarcal Vicar for the Coptic Catholics: ''The Pope is giving an example of real sanctity to the whole Church. He is proving how deep his spirituality is and his profound belief that the Churches' continuity is based first of all on Christ. With great pride mixed with some sadness we tell him: your gift is huge and up to the end you sacrificed yourself. God save you as a saint for the Church''.

Bishop Nicolaus of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Delta diocese asserted: ''The Church is reacting with great respect and value to this courageous and rare decision. In our present era, any Pope resigning from ruling any Church to preserve its impact and give a new impulse is an eminently positive attitude. Everybody should take example from Pope Benedict''.

Maronite Bishop Georges Chihan in Egypt stressed the ''historical step" of the Pope and the wisdom of his mind in seeing the difficulty of carrying out his pastoral action. This decision was certainly taken after profound prayer, much thought and careful consideration. Let us not forget that before being chosen as Pope, he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Bishop Antonios Aziz from Coptic Catholic diocese of Southern Cairo expressed his ''deep wishes of health and blessings'' asking the Almighty to ''grant us a Shepherd as good and courageous as Pope Benedictus''.

Father Henri Boulad, an eminent and well known Jesuit priest presented his ''deep recognition and thanks to Pope Benedict for his courage, his modesty, his simplicity and sense of responsibility''.

Father Rafic Greiche, official spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt, and representative of the Melchite Church stressed ''the greatness of the Church and the splendour and magnanimity of the man... By this step, the Pope is opening the path for a renewal of the leadership. During only eight years, he has enriched the Church with his thought, his science and his wise management. History will remember him as the Pope who convoked two specific Synods for the two areas of Middle East and Africa, with all the challenges they encounter specially after the Arab Spring movements and the precarious economic situation on the black continent. He will also be recalled as the Pope who constantly urged Europe to recognize its Christian roots as well as abandon  consumerism'.'

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